Mercer County Seeking Inclusion in Federal Disaster Declaration
With prelimiary assessments of local and county government expenditures related to Hurricane Sandy now topping $2.8 million, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes has reached out to Gov. Christie for help getting the county deemed a "disaster area."
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today (Nov. 2) reached out to the office of Gov. Chris Christie to confirm with the governor that Mercer County will be included among the next counties to be designated disaster areas by the federal government.
This designation is important in that it will allow Mercer to apply for U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) federal disaster aid to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy beginning Oct. 26, 2012.
The assistance is important in that it can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of this disaster.
“Not a single Mercer County neighborhood has been spared in this historic storm event, and there is no question that Mercer County residents should receive the same opportunity to apply for these federal benefits to begin putting their lives and property back together,” Hughes said. “We anxiously await word, and I will continue to push for the designation,” he added.
Mercer County Office of Emergency Management submitted its Preliminary Damage Assessment to the NJ Office of Emergency Management on Oct. 31, which is the first step to qualify Mercer County for inclusion.
Hughes is also reaching out to the Board of Public Utilities to ensure the two power companies that serve Mercer County residents, JCPL and PSE&G, are devoting necessary equipment and resources to customers in Mercer County.
As Mercer County residents continue to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy, Hughes encourages people to continue to exercise patience.
“The coordination of state and local officials has been amazing, and I ask all our citizens for their continued patience. In a crisis, nerves fray and patience wears thin. Please know that all agencies are working hard to get us back to normal,” he said.
Executive Hughes advises residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy to document their losses and any expenses incurred in their recovery, such as costs to pump water out of a basement, replace a water heater or stay in temporary housing.
“Documenting your losses does not guarantee your eligibility for disaster relief, but it may be required by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or your homeowner’s insurance company,” Hughes said. “Compiling that documentation is a critical step in the process.”
Residents should first contact their homeowner’s and flood insurance companies, and arrange for an adjuster to visit their property, Hughes said. He suggested that before cleaning up, residents videotape or take photos of damaged property and belongings, and that they keep all receipts from purchases made to make repairs.
If Mercer County is added to the Presidential Disaster Declaration, residents who have suffered losses should register with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) to gain access to further information and applications for FEMA programs.
Federal disaster assistance is meant to help individuals and families with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. It is not intended to restore damaged property to its condition before the disaster.
“Even though we have not been included in the initial Disaster Declaration, I’m confident that we will be added,” Hughes said. “We have the assessment to back up our need, and I’ve directed staff to compile accurate data as quickly as possible.”
On Wednesday, Mercer County emergency management teams conducted Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) of local and County government expenditures related to storm protective measures and cleanup, and determined the amount to be in excess of $2.8 million.
Damage from Sandy is widespread and countywide; no Mercer County municipality was spared. The PDA is a specific process used to gather supporting information for the Governor’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. The PDA is conducted after the State determines that the response to the disaster exceeds the local and State resources and ability to respond.
Most branches of the Mercer County Library System are still without power and will be closed Nov. 3 and 4. All facilities of Mercer County Park Commission will also be closed for the weekend. Access to the parks will not be restricted. Mercer County Connection will be closed Saturday, Nov. 3.
Recycling schedules can be checked on the Mercer County Improvement Authority website at www.mcia-nj.com.
Editor's Note: The above information was provided by the Mercer County Administration.
Previous Mercer County-Specific Hurricane Sandy Coverage:
- Nov. 2: "Lawrence Township's Friday Post-Hurricane Update"
- Nov. 2: "Open Pharmacies, Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Wifi, Hot Showers, Power, Etc. (Princeton)"
- Nov. 2: "Despite Hurricane, Police Still Have Crimes to Solve (Lawrence Township)"
- Nov. 1: “Missed LTPS School Days To Be Made Up Next Week, SATs Postponed Until Nov. 17”
- Nov. 1: “Notre Dame Cancels School Friday, Reschedules SATs”
- Nov. 1: “Lawrence Township's Thursday Post-Hurricane Update”
- Nov. 1: "Power Comes Back for Some in Princeton, Others Nearing Four Days Without"
- Nov. 1: "PSE&G Working to Restore Princeton’s Power"
- Nov. 1: “Preliminary Mercer Damage Estimate: Over $2.5 Million”
- Oct. 31: “Power-Loss Safety Concerns Prompt Evacuations (Lawrence Township)”
- Oct. 31: “Princeton Township Opens Municipal Building to Residents”
- Oct. 31: “Widespread Power Outages Remain in Hightstown, East Windsor, Cranbury”
- Oct. 30: "Storm Cleanup Effort Underway in Lawrence Township"
- Oct. 30: "Photo Gallery: Lawrence Township & Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 30: "Lawrence Township: What's Going On With Sandy?"
- Oct. 30: “Hurricane Sandy Brings Chaos to Princeton”
- Oct. 30: "Princeton Man Dies During Hurricane Sandy"
- Oct. 30: “Photo Gallery: Hurricane Sandy Aftermath (East Windsor)”
- Oct. 30: “Photo Gallery: Hurricane Sandy (East Windsor)”
- Oct. 29: "Stay Off the Roads, Mercer County Executive Urges"
- Oct. 29: "Mercer County Residents Urged to 'Shelter in Place'"
- Oct. 28: “Mercer County Braces for Storm”
- Oct. 28: “No Unauthorized Travel Allowed After 6 Tonight as Lawrence Township Declares State of Emergency”
- Oct. 28: “Closings, Cancellations Around East Windsor, Hightstown, and Cranbury”
- Oct. 27: “Lawrence Township Braces for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “Princeton Prepares for Hurricane Sandy”
- Oct. 27: “'Limited' State of Emergency Declared in Mercer County”
- Oct. 27: “Area Municipalities Prepare For Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “Mercer County Mobilizes Resources in Advance of Sandy”
- Oct. 26: “County Executive Urges Residents to Prepare for Sandy”